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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Ten deaths and 357 new cases as Queen's set to begin rapid Covid-19 testing pilot

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Testing staff members receive swabs (Ben Birchall/PA)

Testing staff members receive swabs (Ben Birchall/PA)


Testing staff members receive swabs (Ben Birchall/PA)

A further ten deaths and 357 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported by the Department of Health.

It brings the death toll in Northern Ireland to 923. There are 429 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals and 41 in intensive care units.

The latest reported deaths occurred in Causeway Coast and Glens (4), Mid Ulster (3), Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (2) and Derry and Strabane (1).

In the last seven days, 3,114 people have tested positive for the virus. Among them, 75 people have tested positive in Belfast over the past 24 hours, 44 in Mid Ulster and 43 in Derry City and Strabane.

In Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, 43 people have also tested positive.

It has been announced that Queen's University in Belfast is set to begin an asymptomatic testing programme on campus as part of a national pilot scheme.

Starting on Monday, it comes after the government confirmed this month it was planning to carry out mass testing of students.

The university said testing would allow students who had remained on campus for the first term to "return home with confidence" at Christmas for the first time.

By the end of December, the university said it expects to be able to conduct 6,000 tests per week.

QUB "is pleased to play its part and be one of the first places in the UK to offer asymptomatic testing at scale," said an online statement.

The pilot scheme is directed at "those who are not displaying symptoms" of the virus.

"We plan to continue to offer asymptomatic testing for the Queen’s community in second semester and specific details will be provided in due course.

"This is another way in which the University is taking all possible steps to ensure the University remains a safe place to live, work and study.

"The tests will be conducted using lateral flow devices that have recently been approved for use as a screening device for Covid-19.

"These tests can give rapid results, although participants are required to have two tests no less than three days apart," they said.

A letter from the universities minister earlier this month suggested that mass coronavirus testing for students in England could begin at the end of this month to allow them to return home for Christmas.

The letter, sent to vice-chancellors from Michelle Donelan, proposed a week of mass testing, between November 30 and December 6.

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Belfast Telegraph